Setting Up a Virtual Assistant Business

Setting Up a Virtual Assistant Business

Setting up a Virtual Assistant Business:
What You Need to Know

It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?

All the information on the web about setting up a virtual assistant business.

There are pages and pages of it!

It can be overwhelming and confusing.

It’s hard to know what to do first or where to start.

I remember what it was like when I started out way back in 2009.

I found tons of helpful information.

But the problem was… it was not a complete system or process.

I had to try and put all the information together myself and hope I had it right.

Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t.

It took lots of trial and error AND time to figure out what I needed and in what order.

To help you avoid the same mistakes that I made, I thought I would share my system.

Because it’s all about systems.

A business is after all just a series of systems working together.

I’m creating a series of blog posts on how to set up a virtual assistant business.

Everything you need to know laid out in a simple, step-by-step system. (Something I wish I had when I first started).

In this first blog post, I’ll be sharing an overview of the steps & processes you need to get your VA business up and running. Plus a few other things that I think would be helpful – not just the nuts and bolts of things.

So, let’s get started.

First, you need a plan.

A plan for how and when you’re going to do the work needed to make it happen.

I have a step-by-step action plan that walks you through everything you need to set up your VA business – in fact it’s a big old list of tasks to follow. You can find out more about it by clicking the image below.

Second, know what to expect.

You need to realize that whenever you do something new there is a sense of overwhelm because it’s new, you’ve never done it before.

Understand going in, that you are going to have a sense of overwhelm.

You may also have a sense of confusion because, it’s something you’ve never done before.

For most of us starting out, we’ve never built a business before. I was an employee for over 20 years – I had NO clue how to build a business when I started.

Expect confusion and overwhelm when you’re starting any type of new venture. It could be a diet, it could be an exercise routine, it could be a business.

Just go in with your eyes open and have an idea of what you’re getting in to.

It’s NOT easy regardless of what others may say – it takes hard work to build a successful business.

Third, don’t collect gurus.

Don’t add to your sense of overwhelm or confusion by doing what I call “collecting gurus“.

What I mean is when you listen to several different people on how to do something specific – like set up a VA business.

You may join multiple VA groups on Facebook and subscribe to multiple VA coaches or trainers on YouTube looking for advice or how to’s.

The problem with this is you hear, read or watch 8 different ways to do the same thing!

You get more confused because I may say one thing and someone else says something completely different.

It’s not that any of the advice is wrong – there is more than one way to do everything.

There’s no right or best way, it just depends on who you’re listening to and the method that their using.

Trust me I know – I am a research junkie, I love to collect research, and I fell into this same trap myself.

I listened to podcasts, watched vidoes and read every blog post I could find on being a Virtual Assistant.

I collected so much data (I had a spreadsheet with 11 different tabs) that I got stuck in Analysis Paralysis and ended up with a massive headache to boot!

Because I had listened to too many people, I had no clue which one to follow, or which system to implement because they were all different.

I finally had to choose which person I was going to follow and actually do what they were teaching or suggesting.

Otherwise I would have stayed stuck forever!

So… if you find yourself collecting gurus, PICK THE ONE that resonates with you the most and follow their advice.

Do what they’re suggesting! How do you know if what they’re saying works unless you do it?

Whether that’s me, or someone else, take action and do the work until you get results or you don’t.

If you don’t get the results you want, move on to the next guru or expert.

If it does work think how happy you’ll be!

By collecting gurus and experts, you get different opinions on different things, but the problem is that you get overwhelmed, you get even more confused, and then you get stuck because you don’t know what to do and you don’t know who to follow.

You have to make a decision and then take action.

Fourth, you need to know what it takes.

It takes hard work to set up and launch a VA business.

There is a lot to do when you’re building a business, whether it’s a VA business, or you’re knitting sweaters for a living.

Whatever it might be, there is so much that goes into it.

It’s not something you’re going to do in 30 days.

It’s not something you’re going to do in a weekend.

Now, you probably could, but the question is do you want long-term success?

If you want long-term success, you have to put in the ground work.

You have to build the foundation for a solid long-standing business.

You need to put the time and energy into the back end of your business – your business systems.

A business is made up of systems – you need to make sure that those systems are in place.

Besides systems – you also need the skills that clients want.

Just like in the job world, it’s all about the skills and expertise you have.

You need to look at your current skill set and how you can use it to your advantage.

You don’t need any special Certification to be successful.

Fifth, have realistic expectations.

I know I had unrealistic expectations when I started my business, because I thought, “Yeah, I can do this and I can get out of my soul sucking job in six months.”

Ha… was that ever unrealistic!

I really didn’t understand what I was getting into, or the amount of work that it takes.

I’m painting a real picture here for you.

Make sure that you set realistic expectations for whatever your life is and your schedule is.

If you’re working in a 50 hour career plus you’ve got three kids and a two hour commute, you’re probably not going to build a business in 30 days, at least not one that’s long-standing and successful.

Just set realistic expectations and go for it, but just realize what your getting into.

It’s not easy.

And sixth, you need to take action.

All right, so part of building a business or anything is taking action to get where you want to go.

One of my favorite sayings is, “Take imperfect action every day.”

I am a recovering perfectionist, overthinker.

I can be my own worst enemy and get in my way all the time, so I have to focus on taking imperfect action every day.

I can do imperfect action!

Think about how you can take imperfect action every day to get one step closer to your dream, whatever your dream is, whether it’s quitting your job, or just making some extra money on the side, you need to take some type of imperfect action to achieve it.

You could start by implementing your key business systems.

These systems are the foundation of your business.

Without them, your business is on shaky ground.

Remember… a business is a system.

Here are the 4 key business systems you need to implement:

  • Business
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Delivery

We will be diving into each one of these key systems, along with planning and understanding what it takes to set up a successful Virtual Assistant business in this blog series.

For the next blog post, we are focusing on creating a plan for how and when you’re going to do the work needed to get your VA business off the ground.

Do you have a plan for setting up a Virtual Assistant Business?

I’d love to know if you do!

If not, be sure to check out my Getting Started Action Plan.

It’s a Step-by-Step Plan to Set Up + Launch Your VA Business With Confidence and it’s affordable!

Feel free to post below and let me know what action you’re taking today to set up your VA biz.

All comments + questions are welcome.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

Here are a few related blog posts that might be of interest:

  1. Virtual Assistant Certifications + Why You Don’t Need One
  2. VA Coaching & Training 101 + What You Need To Watch Out For
  3. Virtual Assistant Systems + What You Need To Know
  4. Virtual Assistant Business Plan + What You Need In Your Plan

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

What To Watch Out For When Starting a Virtual Assistant Business

What To Watch Out For When Starting a Virtual Assistant Business

What to watch out for if you’re starting a virtual assistant business.

What I call Bad Advice!

Seems like I’ve been on my soapbox a lot lately… and I guess I have because I’ve seen such a change in the VA Industry in the last year.

I’ve seen so many pieces of what I call “bad advice” given to new Virtual Assistants; I wanted to write a blog post that covers them all!

And… I’ve just added a bit more to this list!

It’s the good, bad + ugly things you need to watch out for when you’re starting your VA business.

Oh… some of this stuff is actually taught by so-called experts in their training + coaching programs and used in their marketing.

This will be one of those posts that grows – as I find more bad advice I’ll be sure to add it to the list.

So… let’s dive in.

#1 The Fake It Until You Make It Strategy – I wrote an entire blog post on this one but I’m going to summarize it here. (You can read the full post here).

I understand taking an opportunity to learn something new but you need to be honest with your clients. Let them know you’re willing to learn – don’t fake it.

Faking means you’re not really sure what you’re doing. Like saying you know Infusionsoft but you’ve never seen it before.

Lack of confidence means you have the skills and know what you’re doing, you’ve just not done it enough to be confident yet. For example, you’ve taken classes to learn WordPress but you’ve not offered it as a service yet. Do you really want to fake it with your clients? You’re working in their business – their baby.

They trust you can do what you say. Remember, it’s your business and reputation on the line.

Oh… and if you’re thinking about offering back-end type services such as social media marketing or techie tools, be sure you get the training you need. These are not the same as offering admin skills that you can learn OTJ.

The VA Industry is NOT Admin only!

#2 Work For Free – Why would you work for free? Your knowledge, skills + expertise are valuable and you should be paid for them. When you work for free you’re not valuing the work you do or yourself. Not to mention, people who want things for free can turn out to be nightmare clients.

I see lots of people saying work for free for a testimonial, but you’re still giving away your time + knowledge. And… they’re worth something, right? Yes, they are!

Instead of working for free, offer a discounted rate, a launch special, a flash sale but don’t work for FREE.

Once the work is done ask them for a testimonial.

They get a break on the rate and you get paid for your time, expertise and knowledge.

#3 It’s Easy Anyone Can Do It (Be a Virtual Assistant). Nope, not true. It’s not easy and not everyone is cut out to be a VA. Take the time to really understand what it takes to be successful.

Learn all you can about the day in the life of a Virtual Assistant so you can make the right decision for you. Just know that it’s a lot of work when starting out but it’s worth it for the freedom and flexibility you get.

Remember… it’s a Business NOT a JOB. 

It’s a tremendous amount of work to set up a business and learn all you need to know about being a business owner + a Virtual Assistant.

If it’s not for you – that’s OK. Just realize it’s not easy.

#4 You Can Make $5k In Your First 30 Days. No one can guarantee how much you’ll make in any timeframe… period.

There are so many factors that go into being successful as a VA.

Is it possible? Sure but it’s the exception NOT the rule.

The potential to make this type of money is there but you have to do the work… this is NOT a get rich quick scheme.

This is a marketing ploy used to get your attention.

#5 Get a VA Certification. I wrote a blog post on this one too! I’ll summarize it here but if you want to read the whole thing click here.

There are NO true “Virtual Assistant Certifications”.

There is NO Industry wide approved certification.

Now, I know there are a few organizations that offer certifications, just be aware of what they mean by certified.

Ask questions like “What do you need to do to obtain the certification and what do you get from it?“

There’s a big difference between completion and certification.

Bottom line is you don’t need to be certified to be a successful Virtual Assistant and be sure you understand what you’re getting for your investment of both time and money.

#6 Get Your First Client Then Figure Out What To Do Next. Not a good way to start a successful business. A business is a system. You need to set up your business systems BEFORE you work with clients.

I’ve seen people who followed this advice and ended up posting for help on what to do next in a Facebook Group and guess what? The client that just hired them was in the group and saw the post. Not a good way to start a relationship.

If you’re looking to build a successful business and give your clients a first-class experience, do yourself and them a favor, don’t follow this bad piece of advice.

Take the time to have your business set up before you land your first client.

#7 How To Start Your VA Business With NO Money. You can definitely bootstrap starting a Virtual Assistant business BUT you will need some money. I’m not talking about thousands of dollars here, you can probably get by for $500 – $1,000. I know that sounds like a ton of money – especially when you don’t have it, but you don’t have to lay it all out at once.

Create a budget for yourself – do the research to find out how much things cost. It all varies based on where you live and the type of services you are offering.

Remember… you’re building a business NOT a hobby.

And… you want it to be successful right?

Then you’re going to have to invest $$$ into it.

Just realize that there is an investment in starting any business – it’s not free.

#8 How To Start a VA Business With NO Experience.  I’m willing to bet that about 99% of all Virtual Assistants started with ZERO experience. I was never a VA before nor was I ever a business owner.

You don’t need experience as a Virtual Assistant to start a VA business. But… you need to have some experience working one-on-one with clients. If you don’t, it will be a much harder journey.

#9 If You’re Confused or Don’t Know What To Charge Start at $25 an Hour.  One of the worst things that I’ve seen in my opinion is advice around if you are confused or don’t know what to charge an hour, start at 25 bucks.

I’m sorry, I have a real problem with this and I may ruffle some feathers, but I really don’t care because this is bad advice.

How can anybody tell you that $25 is what you should charge if you don’t know? How do they know??

You don’t just pull a number out of a hat and say hey “charge this”. (If you do… you’ll probably be out of business quickly or realize you need to raise your rates to survive).

First of all, you should know your baseline rate because all of us have a different number that we need to earn to be successful. The last thing you want to do is start your business and then struggle for money.

There are clients that will pay you what you want or what you need. You just have to believe that!

My best analogy is there are business coaches that make $100 an hour and there are business coaches that make $50,000 an hour and they both have clients.

So… please don’t let somebody dictate what your rate is because if someone would’ve said, “Susan, you need to start at $25 an hour,” I’d have gone out of business because my hourly rate was $50 an hour minimum!

This is NOT a cookie cutter industry.

It is NOT one size fits all. 

Please don’t fall for this AWFUL piece of advice.

If you don’t know what rates to charge, do your homework!

I’d hate to see you undercharging for your expertise and having a hard time paying your bills because you followed advise from someone saying if you’re confused or don’t know what to charge start at $25 an hour!

If you don’t how much you need to charge, please take a few minutes to watch my YouTube series on setting your rates and walking you through how to find your baseline rate. It’s FREE and includes a link to download my rate calculation sheet too!

Spend the time, do the exercise and find out how much you need to earn so you can stay in business because $25 might not be enough. You may need $50 or $75. Remember, believe in what you’re offering and believe in yourself, but please do not fall for that piece of very bad advice in my opinion.

I don’t want people to have to struggle to pay their bills based on bad advice.

Here’s the YouTube series on setting your rates – watch it to find out what your baseline rate is BEFORE you set your rates.

Whew… ok that’s it for now. I hope you found these of value.

As I find more, I’ll be sure to add them to the list.

If you’ve got one to share, please do!

I’d love to hear from you.

All comments + questions are welcome.

Be sure to use the share buttons to share this post with anyone who might benefit from this information.

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

We All Struggled When Starting Our VA Journey

We All Struggled When Starting Our VA Journey

 

You’re Not Alone – We All Struggled When Starting Our Virtual Assistant Journey

There are so many misconceptions on the ways to build a successful Virtual Assistant business!

Lately, I’ve seen several people who are struggling to start their business, juggle their family and business, and maybe even a job.

They’re struggling to get clients or understand marketing + sales.

And… they’re getting really discouraged when it comes to building a Virtual Assistant business.

I know there’s a lot of stuff out there floating around on the Internet that talks about, hey, you know what, you can start your VA business from your pajamas, using only your phone, in just 30 days!

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it??

Well, I hate to break it to you, but it is.

First of all, you need more than a phone to be successful. You can certainly do it in your pajamas, but you really need more than 30 days, or a weekend, to set up a successful business.

Sure, you could set up a business in a weekend, but will it be successful?

And… why waste time and energy, if you’re going to build a business, why not do it right?

Why not make it so it’s successful for the long run?

Instead of throwing something together with spit and band-aids over the weekend and then having to go back and duct tape any holes, spend time on building a solid foundation that will support the business + lifestyle you crave.

You really want to make sure that you understand and are clear on what it takes to be successful.

I also want you to know that every one of us, everybody that you see on the Internet, no matter what type of service they’re offering, or what business they’re in, we all started at ZERO.

We all started with NO experience.

A lot of us started with ZERO business experience.

I was an employee my entire life, so I didn’t have any idea how to run a business.

Many of us don’t have a college education.

We don’t have any business skills, or the skills you need to run a business.

Maybe we have skills from being a professional, but we don’t know how to use those skills in a business capacity.

We don’t have experience as a Virtual Assistant. I’d never been a VA before.

This is all NEW to most of us when were starting out.

And then, we have to learn how to juggle everything that’s happening.

I had a full time job with an infant at home. I had to figure out how to juggle my life, and my family, and my job in order to build my business.

It took time – I had to learn how to create a schedule that worked for me.

So my point is, you need to realize this is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time to build a successful business. It’s hard work. It really is.

But, think of it this way, you’re going to put the most time and effort into that first year of building your business because you want to build a solid foundation for your business to grow and flourish.

You need to put in the time and effort.

It’s not easy to do.

In order to get through the tough times ahead – you really have to focus on WHY you’re doing this.

What’s the reason behind you building a VA business, or whatever type of business you’re building?

For me, if you’ve read any of my blogs, or watched my videos, or listened to my podcast, you know that FREEDOM is my word.

Freedom in every sense of the word.

Even 10 years ago, freedom was what I was trying to achieve – to get out of my soul sucking job. I wanted my freedom!

It’s still my word today!

It’s my WHY.

Because you are going to have a bad day, a bad month, a bad week. And, if you learn how to focus on the dream and not the drama, it’s going to help you succeed.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

It’s not who can build their business the fastest. It’s not a competition. I could build a business in two hours, but that doesn’t mean it will be successful.

There’s a lot of growth that goes into building a business, a lot of self-growth.

Because you are the business, if you have self limiting beliefs, you’re going to bump up against them and you’re going to have to fix them. Self limiting beliefs will STOP you in your tracks.

It is going to take time for you to figure out what services you want to offer.

Who do you want to help? Who is your dream client? What do they look like?

All this stuff takes time.

If you don’t do the work – you’re going to have a tough road.

Some people fly right through this and they know right from the beginning, they’re the exception, not the rule.

It took me a long time and a lot of iterations to really figure out what it was that I wanted to be when I grew up.

Who I wanted to help, how I wanted to help them. This information is key to being successful and it can take time to figure it all out.

Realize your business is not static. It doesn’t stay the same. It’s going to grow and change as you grow and change. Lean in to it!

I think the biggest thing is you need to realize that we all started at ground zero, we started with no clients, no experience.

You can learn what you need to be successful.

So if you don’t know your WHY – figure it out. Why do you want to do this?

And then remember, take care of yourself because you are your business. Be kind, be realistic in the journey that you’re on. Understand it takes time.

Regardless of all the noise you see out there on social media, you can’t buy into it because you don’t know what their backstory is. They may be telling you it took them 30 days, but it may have taken them 30 months.

That’s a sales pitch.

That’s a marketing ploy.

There are people that can do that, but they’re the exception, not the rule.

It took me 18 months – 18 months to be able to build a successful + sustainable business to where I could leave my soul sucking job.

It was NOT an overnight or weekend thing.

The best thing I can tell you, if you’re like me, if you’re a recovering perfectionist and an over thinker, is focus on Imperfect Action.

Do something every day to move yourself closer to your dream.

Focus on the dreams, not the drama.

Realize you’re going to make mistakes. It’s how you respond to the mistakes that really makes the difference. Do you get up, dust yourself off and go on? Because you should, mistakes are not death in a business. It means you’re trying.

You’re going to bump up against obstacles. How do you handle that? Some obstacles you can go around or under or over, some you have to go through. Don’t give up.

You need to understand it’s going to be bumpy.

It’s going to be ugly.

You’re going to have bad days, bad months.

How do you deal with it?

You have to know WHY you want to do this and understand that it’s all part of the journey. Nobody has it easy, regardless of what they may tell you, because they probably had plenty of bumps along the road.

So remember, take care of yourself, be realistic.

Get a plan together. How are you going to do this?

Most of us, when we started, had no idea how we were going to build a business. I know I didn’t. I kind of formulated a plan over time.

That’s why I came up with my Getting Started System, and my Action Plan, that actually goes through step by step, every step that you need to do to build a successful + sustainable business on your own time, on your own schedule. It’s basically a long to do list, that’s why it’s called an Action Plan.

Have a plan of how you’re going to do this and then get started.

Be realistic in the goals that you set and you will get there.

But most of all, be kind to yourself.

Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we all started at level zero when we started our VA business.

You’ve got this!

Focus on the dream NOT the drama!

So… what are you going to do next, I’d love to know!

All comments + questions are welcome.

I’d love to hear from you.

If you prefer to watch instead of read here’s the link to the YouTube video – https://youtu.be/JhdJ2vcxRhs

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Skills To Be a Professionsl Virtual Assistant
  2. 4 Ways to Scale Your Virtual Assistant Business
  3. Fake It Until You Make It Strategy

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Virtual Assistant is NOT a Title…

Virtual Assistant is NOT a Title…

Why You Need To Stop Calling Yourself a Virtual Assistant.

It’s an Industry.

Like many of us, when we’re first starting out, we become part of the VA industry and we take on the title of Virtual Assistant.

Which, is really not a good thing.

First off, titles don’t mean as much in the entrepreneurial world or the solo-preneurial world as they do in corporate America.

For instance, when I was in corporate America, my title was Senior IT Project Manager.

Well, a lot of stuff hung from that title, like what I did, who I worked for, which department, how much money I made, and so much more was actually rolled up into my title.

Now when you become your own boss, titles really don’t matter. They don’t carry the same amount of weight as they did when you were an employee.

But now…  nobody really cares what you call yourself (no disrespect).

What clients want is somebody who can solve their problems. You could call yourself Queen of Sheba as long as you solved your client’s problems.

The point is titles don’t really matter to your clients.

Now back to why you need to stop calling yourself a Virtual Assistant.

When you’re talking to people, whether it be family, friends or even prospective clients at a networking event and they ask you – “What do you do?”.

And, you answer – “I’m a Virtual Assistant”.

You’ll most likely get one of two responses.

One – you get the deer in the headlights look. In other words they really have no idea what that means.

Two – they assume you’re and Admin in one way, shape or form.

I didn’t want to be known as an Admin – because I wasn’t one.

I was not offering admin type services  – I was offering backend systems + techie services.

The types of services that gave my the freedom I wanted and didn’t keep me tied to my desk certain hours a day like admin work does.

So… when I talk to somebody and they’re like, “Oh, Virtual Assistant. You can answer my phone or you manage my email.”

I’m like, “Uh, no. That’s not what I do.”

I quickly realized that using VA as a title or as a business owner wasn’t working for me.

I had to spend too much time trying to explain what the heck it was that I did. So, I changed my strategy to thinking about Virtual Assistant as an industry NOT a title.

And… really that is what it is, it’s not a title, but I know for most of us who’ve come out of corporate American or any JOB with a title, that’s what we kind of glob onto.

We want to call ourself a Virtual Assistant.

But… it’s time to move on and away from being a “VA”.

Remember people, don’t know what it is, they assume you’re an admin.

Start looking at VA as an industry and focus on what you do for your clients. How you help them – that is where you need to shift your focus.

If you need a title for your business card or an event, use something related to the services you offer. For example Email Marketing Manager, Transcriptionist, Social Media Specialist, etc.

Oh and before I forget… stop spending money on business cards.

They don’t work!

Instead use a Benefits Flyer™. It’s something I came up with myself many years ago because when I handed someone my business card (especially if it said VA on it), we had the same old conversation. “Well, what is it that you do? Can you explain that to me?”

So… I dropped both the business card + the title of VA and went with a flyer that says, “Here’s how I can help you.

I’ve included a link to “How to create a Benefits Flyer™” at the end of this post just in case you want to know more.

Going forward you want to focus on how you help people and the results they get and not on a title.

For instance, let’s say that I am a social media manager and my focus is the travel industry.

So when someone asks, “Hey Susan, what do you do?”

I answer, “Well, I help family owned travel agencies manage their social media.”  Then people immediately understand what I do.

Use this simple formula: I help, WHO (who do you help – your target audience) RESULTS (what results do they get) + HOW (how do you help them – what do you do).

A few more examples to help you are….

I help Business Coaches (WHO) get in front of their audience (RESULTS) by managing their social media (HOW).

I help Yoga Studios (WHO) get more clients (RESULTS) by writing great copy (HOW).

I help Virtual Assistants (WHO) launch a successful business (RESULTS) by teaching them how to create and implement systems (HOW).

I know it takes time for many people to come up with these – to summarize them in one sentence.

It took me a long time – it’s part of getting clear on who you help and how.

Be patient and practice – it will come.

Play around with it.

It may not roll off your tongue immediately but it’s really something that you want to start focusing on.

Oh and on a side note… I know many people think that the VA industry is made up of nothing but administrative assistants and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As I mentioned, I’m not an admin, never wanted to be, never was one. I’m not knocking admins they have great skills but it just wasn’t something that I wanted to do.

The VA industry is very, very diverse just like a business. There’s people here from HR, IT, like myself, people who do sales and marketing, systems and technology and many more.

So…  don’t think that you have to be an admin if you don’t want to be.

You can learn the skills and the systems that you need to make a difference and that help you quit your soul sucking job or do whatever it is that you want to do.

Remember… clients are more interested in results NOT what you’re called. Focus on that!

What’s your title?

I’d love to know!

All comments + questions are welcome.

Here is another article talking about why you need to ditch titles and switch to talking to what you do and how you help your clients. 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/08/13/the-law-of-specialization-in-personal-branding/#33295d0e1951

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Virtual Assistant Certifications: Why You Don’t Need One
  2. 5 Ways to Find Clients For Your VA Biz
  3. Creating Your Virtual Assistant Business Plan
  4. Creating Your Benefits Flyer.

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

How I Started My VA Business Working a Full Time Job

How I Started My VA Business Working a Full Time Job

I’m sharing my story on how I started my VA business on the side while working full time with an infant at home!

If I can do it – so can you!

I wanted to share a little bit of my backstory for those of you who may not be familiar with me or don’t know my story.

Like many of you, I started my business while I was working full-time in Corporate America.

The catalyst of change for me was when I had a late in life baby who was very unexpected but a blessing all rolled up into one.

I worked as an IT Project Manager for a large fortune 500 company and was lucky enough to have 90 days off when Sam was born.

Now before I left on leave, I handed over the project that I had been working on for the past year – one that I had resurrected from near death. The project was flourshing when I handed it off to a very capable colleague to manage while I was gone.

Fast forward 90 days when I was back at work.

It took about a week to get settled back into my old routine before I was ready to take back my project.

So, I reached out to my manager and asked “When can we have a turnover meeting so I can get my project back?”

At first, I didn’t get a straight answer or was delayed in getting any answer at all.

After another week of delays + excuses I finally said, “Well, what’s the deal? Am I going to get the project back or not?”

I was finally told I would not be getting it back and didn’t get a reason as to why.

I asked why they came to this decision but it was ignored.

I did hear through the rumor mill that it was because I had a newborn at home and the powers that be figured I wouldn’t be as available or invested as I was before.

I thought, well, that’s crap.

I’d always been available.

I had worked long and hard to fix this project that was given to me broken and I brought it back to life.

What do they mean I wouldn’t be available or invested???

This wasn’t my first child.

I had always done great work for them before and the more I thought about this situation, the madder I got.

In fact, I got really angry.

I had busted my butt for this company and this was the thanks I got.

Seriously?

I didn’t get my project back and they decided that I would not be as available as I was before because I had a newborn at home.

That was really the straw that broke the camels back so to speak.

At that point I thought, you know what? I’m going to take my talents elsewhere.

As a project manager, I had worked for other companies from home in the past. Companies like Discover Card and American Express. But I realized, I didn’t want to do that anymore. I didn’t want to work for anybody else ever again.

I didn’t want to deal with this crap.  The gossip, the backstabbing, the politics, the commute all of the “stuff” that goes with being an employee. I just wanted to be rid of all of it!

I got tired of always having to ask permission for everything.

It had come to the point where my job became “soul sucking“.

Can you relate?

With a job, you’re kind of boxed in.

Most of the time you don’t know what your true talents are because you’re doing the same stuff day to day.

You’re told what to do, when to do it, how to do it… blah blah blah.

It’s like you’re being robbed of your creativity!

On top of that you may feel unappreciated, unheard and at times taken advantage of – like I was.

That’s no way to live a life – especially since we spend up to 40 hours per week at WORK!

No thank you – no more.

I wanted my freedom.

I wanted freedom in every sense of the word.

In fact my word is Freedom. It was back then and it still is today.

I was so tired of making somebody else money. I wanted to make money for ME without all the crap that comes with the job.

Plus, I wanted the flexibility to be home for my children.

I hated it to call in sick because my son was sick.

I remember the time he had the chickenpox and we couldn’t go to school for a week. He only had 4 little chickenpox but he wasn’t allowed back in school until they were all gone. I had to call in sick for a week. And in the back of my mind I was worried about being fired because I wasn’t at work. I managed to convince them to let me work from home during that time but it as a tough sell!

In what world is it okay to put your job in front of your family?

The time had come for me to quit my soul sucking job… but first I had to figure out what I was going to do to make a living.

So I set out to Google, our friend Google, what can I do from home.

From my Google search I stumbled on the VA Industry and I thought “hey I can do this!

But then I thought… wait a minute I don’t have any experience as a VA or a college education.

I went to work for my dad at 17 and never looked back.

When it came time for college I passed since I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I was lucky and given a lot of opportunity to move up the corporate ladder and make great money as I went along without a college education so I saw no need to get one.

Bottom line is I didn’t have any special education or training.

I just knew that this “VA” thing was my ticket out of the cube farm.

But.. I didn’t even know what a VA did or how to get started.

Then I thought, well how AM I going to do this?

I’ve always been an employee – I have no idea how to be a business owner.

Plus… what do I need to know to become a VA?

I started by researching everything I could find about the VA Industry and being a Virtual Assistant.

Now realize, 10 years ago when I started my business, there was very limited information on all things VA. Not to mention that all the books + training I bought were all focused on being an Admin.

I didn’t want to be an Admin. I hadn’t been an Admin in 20 years.

I knew I had skills that I could use, but not as an admin.

So, that was my first stumbling block. I thought, well, I don’t want to go back and be an admin, no offense to admins, but that’s not what I wanted to do.

As I started to do more research, I realized that it’s just a perception.

The VA industry is NOT admin specific, it’s incredibly diverse.

There are so many different skill sets in this industry!

I quickly realized that I had skills that are transferrable! Woo Hoo!

I have Project Management skills, plus I’m a techie!

And… I can learn!!

One of the benefits of having a job when you’re starting your business is that you have money that you can spend to learn how to setup a business + the skills clients want.

I bought training and I bought books. Some were good – most were crap.

But… once again they were focused on offering administrative services as a VA and that is NOT what I wanted to do.

So, I started to do more research into skills and I realized I don’t have the skills that a lot of clients want, but I had the money to be able to invest in training – if I can find it!

Now I know not everybody has $$ to invest, but you could still dive into YouTube. I did especially for techie stuff.  YouTube became my best friend! I saw requests for help with WordPress, and I’m like, what’s a WordPress? And I’m a techie! I used to build websites with HTML, but I’d never heard of WordPress before. So, I used YouTube as a way to find what I needed.

The more research I did, the more excited I got.

I knew this was my ticket out of my soul sucking job!!

But then the problem was how am I going to do this when I have a 40 plus hour job, plus a two hour commute every day and an infant at home. Not to mention my nine year old son, fur babies and husband.

How am I going to make this work?

How am I going to find the time to build a business when I’m working all the time and spending time with my family?

The answer was obvious –  I knew I’d have to create a schedule. One that I could use to help me learn the skills I needed and setup my business.

I also wanted to focus on offering the types of skills that weren’t going to keep me in front of my computer at specific times of the day. Many of the administrative skills like, email management or customer service, you need to be in front of a computer or your phone certain hours of the day. I knew I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be able to do the work around my own schedule and focus on delivering it on time.

So… I made the choice to focus on techie skills. The kind of services that didn’t keep me in front of my computer all the time.

That way I didn’t have to talk about “business hours” I could just talk deadlines.

Now the time had come to set up the business!

First off, I noticed a lack of legitimate training around setting up the business side of things. Most of it was just focused on figuring out what services you’re offering then going out and finding clients.

And to be honest… that just didn’t feel right to me.

I’m a systems junkie!

What about all the systems + processes you need?

After all a business is just a bunch of systems that work together.

How could I have a business if I didn’t have any systems?

Skills are not enough to be successful – you need to have a solid business too!

So… I set out to figure out what systems you needed and how to set them up on my own by trial & error.

It’s not a path I recommend because it takes a long time + all the hiccups along the way.

But at the time I really didn’t have a choice.

Ok… back to my schedule. Now I had to figure out when I had the time to do all of this!

I created a simple plan and stuck to it by working when my kids were asleep.

I gave up TV and put my energy into setting up my business.

I would get up 2 hours early every day, and I’m not a morning person… I would get up two hours early in the morning and then work late into the night after my kiddos were in bed. I worked on Saturdays and I took Sundays off because I realized very quickly, if you work all the time you’re going to burn out.

Having a schedule is so, so key to building your business and getting out of your soul sucking job.

It took me 18 months of work before I could escape my soul sucking job.

Why you may be thinking… because I had to replace a 6-figure income FIRST.

It’s possible to do it faster… it all depends on how much you need to make to replace the money you’re making at your JOB.

Everyone is different – it’s not a one size fits all answer here.

And… realize that the VA Industry is not cookie cutter!

Sorry… I digress

Remember, I had to figure it out as I went along and made lots of mistakes along the way. That is definitely not the fast track for building a business.

Don’t jump ship too early – know how much you need to earn before you quit your job.  Otherwise, you’ll struggle for money and who wants to do that!

Once I was home full time there were still some learning curves since I’d never been my own boss before. I’d always been an employee, which means I was used to being given direction or asking for permission.  It’s a whole different world when you have your own business!

I ran my VA business – Clever Collaborations for four years before I started to get restless.

You see, it was about this time that people were coming to me and asking “How did you do it?”

They wanted to know how I built my business, how I got clients, how I marketed my services and everything else I did to be successful.

This got me thinking that maybe this was my calling – to help others build a successful VA business around the lifestyle they crave.

And that my friends is how The Techie Mentor was born in 2014!

I was a computer trainer in a previous life so teaching is second nature to me and something I love to do. This will date me, but I used to teach DOS, Windows, Lotus and WordPerfect!

So… there you have it my backstory!

If you’re somebody who is interested in escaping the cube farm and starting a VA Business you can do it too!

I’m living proof that someone with ZERO business skills, NO college education and NO experience as an entrepreneur built a successful VA business from scratch!!

What’s stopping you?

Oh… and one more thing. Building a business takes time – it’s not something you can do in 30 days regardless of what other people are selling you.

This is not something you do in a weekend – it takes time + commitment.

Building a business, a successful business, takes time. But if you want to build it once then build it the right way, then you don’t have to worry about it anymore. You can move onto having the freedom and flexibility that you want.

Hopefully sharing my story has given some of you who are wondering if this is for you and if it’s doable, some hope.

Thank you for reading my story!

All comments + questions are welcome.

I’d love to hear from you.

If you prefer, to watch instead of read – click here to check out my YouTube video discussing my story.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. What Skills Are Needed To Be A Virtual Assistant
  2. Setting Up A Virtual Assistant Business
  3. Your Virtual Assistant Business Plan
  4. Virtual Assistant is NOT a Title

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Skills To Be A Professional Virtual Assistant

Skills To Be A Professional Virtual Assistant

Skills To Be A Professional Virtual Assistant

It’s More Than You Think!

If you want to be a Professional Virtual Assistant… read on!

Welcome to part three of this three part series of blog posts focusing on the skills you need to be successful as a Virtual Assistant.

If you haven’t read the second post all about Hard Skills you can read it here.

In this blog post I’m going to focus on the skills you need to be a Professional Virtual Assistant.

To become a Service Professional and stand out in your niche.

Why is this important?

Well… to me for a few reasons.

  1. Professionals earn more than hobbyists (someone who is a VA part time or on the side).
  2. Professionals want to work with Professionals.
  3. Professionals deliver quality services.

To me, each of these reasons are important because I prefer to work with professionals and want to be viewed as a professional myself.

What about you?

There is nothing wrong with having a VA business as a side hustle – I think it’s awesome if that’s your dream/vision.

You have to ask yourself what is your vision – what does your dream business look like.

Only you can answer that – and there is NO wrong answer.

Remember my motto – your business – your choice.

Do what feels right to you!

So… If you want to be a Professional Virtual Assistant there are certain things you’ll need.

First, have the desire.

Second, have what I would call “professional skills”.

And third, rinse + repeat systems.

Let’s start with my definition of “professional skills”.

These “skills” are really a combination of traits + best practices.

Things like:

  • Don’t take on clients before you’re ready.
  • All your business systems are setup + ready to go.
  • You’re proactive.
  • You’re honest + ethical.
  • You want to help your clients succeed.
  • You only take on the “right” clients for you.
  • You keep it professional.
  • You collaborate + partner with your clients.

Having these traits or best practices doesn’t mean you’ll be successful… but it does show your clients that you’re invested and willing to take action to help them be successful.

Then there’s the rinse + repeat systems.

A business is made up of a series of systems.

No systems = no business (at least not for long).

You want to be sure you’ve got your key business systems implemented as soon as possible.

These systems are the foundation of a successful business.

You can read more about the key business systems by clicking here.

It will take you to a series of posts all about the systems you need.

I’ve also added the links below for easy reference.

Do you have your key systems implemented?

I’d love to hear from you.

All comments + questions are welcome.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Virtual Assistant Key Business Systems
  2. Ways to Scale Your VA Business
  3. Tips For Interviewing Potential Clients

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

 

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